As visions of attractive single young men and women mingling over complimentary Smirnoff martinis danced in our heads, we entered the scene to discover that the crowd consisted of a healthy mix of young gold diggers poured into Lane Bryant sale merchandise and wealthy card-carrying AARP members with pockets full of Viagra.
Our first encounter was with a nice, graying gentleman who claimed that he wasn't sure why he was invited but had hopes of meeting a "nice young lady for dinners and evenings at the opera." He nudged me and tossed in a "But I would be happy to settle for sex." That was our clue to make a move toward the bar. While waiting for our slightly dirty martini, we overheard a young social climber in a red dress, which was barely covering her rather large assets: "I wouldn't mind meeting a guy that could take care of me. I don't mind if he's a bit older, as long as he has the money to spoil me. ... The last one gave me these," she said, pointing to her assets. With cocktail in hand, we turned to meet the gaze of a cute Asian girl who apparently was husband shopping. We asked how she had garnered an invite. Turns out she had run into the owner/publisher of the Gazette and had told her, "I need your help to find a husband. I desperately need to meet a man."
As the night wore on, and our martinis kicked in, we decided to find out exactly how these bachelors came to be chosen. We were told by a source that the guys needed to meet the Three S's: sexy, successful, and single.
We delved a bit further. Where do you find these guys? we asked. "They can either sign up or be nominated by someone. In fact, if you would like to qualify for next year, there is a sign-up sheet on that table." How many nominations were there last year? "We received just over a hundred, and after qualifying to see if they were still single, we came out with just the right amount."
As we readied to leave, we turned around to set our cocktail on the table next to the sign-up sheet. "Oh, what the hell," we thought, as we jotted our name down and snuck out the back.
Developer Joe Cassidy knows his newest condominium project in San Francisco won't appeal to every prospective tenant. Even though he's nailed down a prime spot in Noe Valley on the corner of Dolores and 29th streets, allotted two parking spaces for each of the 13 units, and says the construction will result in an "absolutely beautiful building," Cassidy admits there's no escaping the specter of the site's previous tenant -- the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science.
"There might be a few people who are too superstitious to live here," says Cassidy, his thick brogue breaking into a chuckle. "That's why we're not going to call it Mortuary Condominiums."
The 72-year-old school, regarded by many as the "Harvard of mortuary science schools," graduated its final class last month (see "Death of a Death School," April 24). Forced out of San Francisco by rising costs and a lack of affordable housing for faculty and students, the school's board of directors voted last year to merge the college's curriculum with Sacramento's American River College. The move was spurred, in part, by the desire of the building's landlord -- Steven Welch, a member of the Duggan-Welch family of funeral directors -- to tear down the 1920s-era Romanesque structure and redevelop the site as a condominium complex.
But Noe Valley residents raised an uproar about the size and traffic implications of Welch's proposal, and the condominium concept was dead by spring. Cassidy, however, wanted to breathe new life into the project and bought the property from Welch in May.
Cassidy's plan for two four-story residential buildings uses Welch's proposal as a blueprint. As in the previous design, Cassidy will build 13 condominiums, two of them classified as affordable housing, and most of the units will face 29th Street. But in an effort to assuage residents' concerns about the lack of parking for so many new units, Cassidy also will construct an underground parking garage that will allow him to provide two spaces for each condominium. Despite the continued objections of some Noe Valley residents and neighborhood groups, Cassidy's proposal was approved by the Planning Commission in mid-June, and work will probably begin in about three months.
The condominiums will certainly be a change of pace for the area's residents, who had grown fond of the deathly calm and studious nature of the much-revered mortuary school and its students. But Cassidy says his complex will help restore the corner to the land of the living, and he hopes concerned residents will come to accept rebirth as the natural successor of death.
That is, after all, the usual cycle of things.
"One lady said, 'This neighborhood used to be so quiet,'" Cassidy recounts. "And I said, 'Yeah, that's because everyone was dead.'"
Fighting sexism in corporate America -- we love it, it's important work, but who's got the time? So we were thrilled to see that the task had been taken on by San Francisco subversives with excellent penmanship.
The object of subversion is a St. Pauli Girl beer billboard near the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Evans streets. The advertisement -- which is plastered all over the Bay Area -- features a 19th-century German barmaid whose blouse is about to burst open; at first it's hard to tell if this is an ad for Wonderbras or imported beer. The Fräulein is merrily transporting six overflowing beer mugs; as any waitress will tell you, smiling is not a natural reaction to having beer sloshed on your hands while your cleavage is catching a draft.
But the St. Pauli Girl, as she is known, is not a typical specimen of womanhood. The beer company has formed an alliance with Playboy Enterprises, and the 2002 St. Pauli Girl is Playmate Heather Kozar. Heather says that being a former Playmate of the Year was the key to landing her the gig as a professional poster girl. As our mothers would say, Heather, aim higher.
On the billboard, the St. Pauli Girl appears under the slogan "Life's better with a girl"; previous company slogans have included "You never forget your first girl" and "St. Pauli Girl goes down easy." This gives you some idea of the testosterone level of the target audience.
Or is it estrogen we're talking about?
On closer inspection of the billboard in question, we noticed that someone had replaced "St. Pauli Girl beer" with a neatly lettered inscription that read: "Dyke Power." We like to think about Mr. Advertising Guy at St. Pauli Girl, the guy who made the deal with Playboy to have the Playmates drink St. Pauli Girl, the guy who equates having a relationship with a female to drinking a beer. Did this guy know he was creating a dynamite slogan for last week's Gay Pride extravaganza? Is it just us, or can you imagine the St. Pauli Girl leading the Dykes on Bikes contingent? She'd be the one up front screaming, "Life's better with a girl!"
--Jane Meredith Adams